So – you have your monthly gathering. Fifty, a hundred, two hundred people start showing up. Everyone is dancing, singing, having a great time. And then what? You have a cup of tea and then leave. You feel great, but you haven't really met anyone. You haven't made connections. So now your atheist church is big, it's time to get small. That's right – Sunday Assembly is Big Small. We have big monthly meetings and then more intimate meetings, where people get to know one another.

This started as a pilot in June and was very successful, albeit with a few bumps along the way (this is the way we like to learn, it seems). Around 10 people met every week to discuss a general theme (Happiness, My Goals, Life etc.) and to check in with each other. A simple "How are you doing?" It's peer-to-peer support. We'd say how our weeks have been, discuss goals, aims we have and then check in with each other as to how those are going. It is part social, part support.

This, of course, in church-church, is very normal. Often a Bible study or such. But we don't have a Bible, so instead we reach out to each other. It is very simple, but really effective. All you need is a room and some people. One person should be the facilitator who enables people to contribute – drawing out the quieter ones and curtailing those who would talk forever if you let them.

Some helpful things we discovered during our pilot sessions:

Have your first meeting in a room above a pub or such, somewhere public for you all to meet for the first time. Once everyone has met, we found people were keen to volunteer their home for the next Smoup.

Keep your host and facilitator separate. It is really tricky to facilitate a meeting if you are worried whether people have enough to drink.

Organise your groups around areas. It is tricky if people are coming from all over the shop and nice for people to meet others local to their area.

Have a topic of discussion for each meeting. It gives a focus. You may find that people stray off it into interesting places. Think of the topic as a springboard, rather than a strict item to discuss.

Set goals between meet ups of things you want to achieve as individuals. We had a real variety from someone who wanted to get over their fear of public speaking to someone who wanted to engage with the homeless.

The Smoup is really fun but be ready for people to be having a bad week. Our pilot group were a hilarious bunch but we were mindful that some people might need to let off steam.

Meet fortnightly at the most – weekly seemed to be too big a commitment.

Say the word "Smoup" a lot. It makes people giggle.

We will be starting two Smoups in London, from September. One South, one East. They will meet fortnightly for a period of 3 months. I am sure we will learn more from those. As with everything we do, this is evolving, and it's really exciting to see an actual community growing out of an idea. Connections being made – people helping each other to live better, help often and wonder more. We're only eight months in, people, and already tremendous things are happening!